Martwayne | Power Through Fashion: 2011

Saturday, December 31, 2011

"Together We Made It...

...we made it even though we had our backs up against the wall..."

Yup! That's the song that comes to mind as I type this... Busta Rhymes & Linkin Park I believe... Very apt @ this point...

Anywayz... when I saw this picture, I couldn't help but laugh out loud! I wondered why 2011 looked so sad that it was all over. It shouldn't be really... because in 2011, a lot of us moved just that little bit forward in our lives, either in the form of a job, a promotion, a spouse, a child... But while there were upsides, there were also some downsides. BUT you know what?! One thing I have learnt is to always be grateful! We all lived to see the end of 2011...and we all have another chance to write better chapters in our lives.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Perfect Gift for this Holiday Season...

Ok so the holidays are here! NICE! I really don't know why I'm happy seeing I plan to work right through the holidays... but anywayz in the spirit of the season, I'm blending in. And what are we all used to? Gifts and hampers flying all over the place. You get into some offices and they have enough hampers to set up a store that will rival Shoprite anyday!

But sometimes I wonder... do you send gifts to people because they really need it or is it simply because "it's the thought that counts"? I sometimes wonder if somehow we may have lost the plot. If it is simply because of the "thought", then surely that must defeat the purpose of sending the gift, especially if you know in advance that the person may neither need nor appreciate it.

Well in my case, I decided to be very "vocal" about the items on my Christmas wishlist. Why? Because I realized I was wasting so much money buying stuff when the constant comments I got from friends and family went along the lines of " should have told me. I have a spare one lying around. I'd just have given that to you". I got tired of hearing this so what do I do now? I simply ask and believe firmly that I will be given...before I go on a spending spree. And trust far, I've received many of the items on my list and saved myself a whole lot of money!

So for me, finding people to sponsor my needs is wayyy better than receiving a hamper and if the senders just ask what the recipients want, it might actually save them a lot of money. After all, I got a toaster which cost only what... N3,000 thereabouts...and of course we all know that a decent sized hamper would cost a lot more. Besides, there's even no need to buy anything if you have what the person wants lying around the house.

Ok... so where am I going with this???

Yes! A Gift Certificate! You'll understand why soon enough.

I believe the best gift you can give a loved one is a direct investment in their future. If you look around you, you will see that someone you know has a passion for something but either cannot afford the time, opportunity costs or financial implications of pursuing a course in their desired field. Ok, well as a gift giver, you probably cannot do much about the opportunity costs or the time, but you can definitely assist with the financial implications.

So bringing it closer to home, this is what I am saying...

Like Brownie said in her BB broadcast, gift givers, "think loooong and haaaaard. Check your contacts list slowly..." Surely there is someone in your list that really deserves a break, a job, a change in career or even the encouragement to pursue a dream but cannot afford it. There has to be someone, male or female, who you know loves fashion and would love to turn it into a full-time career or run it as a business alongside his/her day job. Many of the students who just concluded Level 1a already had jobs but decided to learn the skill. They came from various disciplines, real estate, chemical engineering, banking, management information systems, and even fashion design, but their love for fashion brought them all under one roof. I had a day job in accounting, a very amazing one, but decided to start a career in the fashion industry so trust me when I say there are MANY of us around. So why not invest in their futures and help them turn their passions into business realities by registering them for one of the Courses we run at the Martwayne Training Center?! Trust me... it will make all the difference in the world!

And if, as a gift recipient, you would love to attend the Course to gain the required knowledge and learn the necessary skills for turning your dream into a reality but cannot afford it, why not ask people to assist you with the full payment, a part payment or even a loan with a flexible repayment option. I know if I cannot afford something, I will lament to my friends till one of them either helped out by paying for what I wanted, made a part payment or even gave me a loan with a flexible repayment option at 0% interest. Yes you may say I have amazing friends but guess what? So do you!

So how can the "gift-givers" and Martwayne come together to make a difference in the lives of the gift recipients? Simple! The gift givers can buy the Martwayne Training Center (MTC) Gift Certificate for their gift recipients!

Ok well this Certificate is just a draft... which I churned out in like 2 minutes for this post but don't worry...the real Certificate will be much nicer. :-)

So really, it takes less than 5 steps.

You sponsor the costs of the Course on behalf of your loved one or gift recipient, pay the registration fees into our account (Martwayne Dynamiques, Account No: 6118004078 at any Zenith Bank Branch). Once we confirm the payment, we contact the prospective student of the Gift and send them an electronic Gift Certificate with all the details of the Course you registered them for, copy you in on the mail and send you a receipt as evidence of your payment. Simple! BUT please note that the gift recipients cannot exchange their Gift Certificates for the monetary value and they can only defer the particular Course once. They can, however, upgrade from e.g. the Basic Course to the Executive Course if they pay the difference in the fees.

And which Courses am I referring to? Well, the Training Center has 3 different Courses planned for next year.
  1. The Foundation Course in Fashion Design (our Executive Course for aspiring and practising fashion entrepreneurs. This Course is split into 2 levels, Level "a" and Level "b". Each level costs N37,500 for a 6-week period and runs on Saturdays only);
  2. The Basics of Fashion Design & Garment Construction (a Course for those who just want to learn how to sew and are not really particular about turning the skill into a full-blown business. This Course is also split into 2 levels, "a" and "b"; each level costing N27,500 for a 6-week period. It runs only on Fridays); and
  3. The Fundamentals of Running a Fashion Business (open lectures which run once a month. A fee is, however, yet to be determined for this Course.)
The first 2 Courses are scheduled to begin in the 2nd week of January, 2012, i.e. 13th & 14th of January, 2012 in a nice, serene location in Surulere, Lagos. We will give more details in subsequent posts of how the Courses will run.

But really what do you think? The perfect gift for this season??? Yes I thought so too! :-D No wait...actually scratch that! It is the perfect gift for all seasons, Christmas, New Year, Valentine (errr.... in addition to all the other goodies of course... ;-)), Birthday, Easter, you name it! And trust me, it will work and your recipients will not only love you for life but will NEVER forget the people instrumental in getting them to become the rich and famous people they will eventually become. And you know, it really doesn't matter if you live outside Lagos or the country. All you need do is sponsor a recipient living in the country, preferably Lagos, for their convenience.

So... gift givers what sayest thou? Think of it as "teaching a man how to fish so he can feed himself for a lifetime" rather than "giving a man a fish to feed himself for only a day".

And gift recipients, what say you? Speak out and let people in on your plans and resolutions for 2012! All it takes is the first step and if I and so many others could do it, so can you! Think of it as "asking so you may receive".

Please feel free to contact me on +234 (0) 809 787 6075; +234 (0) 813 298 7824 or +234 (0) 819 142 0983) or send an e-mail to You may also send me a message via Blackberry, PIN 2156A776, or follow me on twitter @topewilliams.

I look forward to hearing from both sides and, indeed, working with you guys in the New Year!

Happy Holidays and have a very Merry Christmas in advance! Eat and drink for 2!

Cheers! MWAH!

PS. Brownie organizes hampers and cakes so if you need one, do buzz her on +234 (0) 703 122 5103 or +234 (0) 802 759 8051. Many thanks! Oh... her real name is Yinka but we're all used to calling her Brownie. It kind of stuck since university days.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

To the End of a Successful Debut Module!

YES! We have officially completed the very first module organized by the Martwayne Training Center. You guys cannot understand how ecstatic I am that this module ended on SUCH a positive note! Despite ALL the challenges we faced...from the delayed work on the renovations, to the brand new ACs that never worked even for one minute and in fact exploded after only 3 weeks (how I cannot imagine); from the generator that for some reason refused to work just 2 days before the first course to the artisan that held on to my blinds, from my carpenter neglecting my work and not delivering my tables to getting a refund from the AC suppliers... YET my staff and I stuck through it all.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

So tell me... Do You Know Who You Really Are as a Fashion Designer?!

Simple enough question right?! I thought so too... but after relating to a few people, I decided to write a post on this topic to get designers to actually start looking deep within to discover who they really are as designers and what their design aesthetic is.

Let me take you back to a conversation I was having with a friend sometime last week.

He was firmly of the opinion that designers needed to start with market segmentation and identify their markets first before coming up with their designs. His explanation was simple enough. "You need to know what the market wants before you design". I told him point blank that I did not agree with him! That logic may work in other industries but not in the creative industries and definitely not in the fashion industry!

My reason?

Yes it may make sense from a theoretical point of view but identifying your market before knowing who you are as a designer and what your design aesthetic is is like pulling the cart before the horse. You will be unable to sustain it in the long run!

As a fashion designer and this of course applies to those who plan to build careers in the industry or become fashion entrepreneurs, you need to have a design signature. You need to know what you can do, what you like to do, what comes naturally to you, what your vision is for the person you would like to dress and of course, who your ideal customer is. You do not go out looking for the customers first and then decide to come up with designs to suit that customer! I mean who does that?! Ok so what happens if all the market wants is "high fashion" as is usually the case over here and all you really want to focus on is lingerie or even sportswear? Would you go out of your way to continue creating "high fashion" when you know deep down what you want to do is totally different? I tell you and I may have said it before... "there is nothing worse than loving what you do and not enjoying it!"

I remember when I first started out, people told me that the market wanted ankara and made-to-measure clothing. I knew first, I did not want to work with ankara for so many reasons or go down the bespoke route. I had nothing against the fabric or sewing for people. It simply was not the vision I had for my business... or should I say it simply was not something I wanted to constitute a substantial proportion of my business. BUT did I listen to people? Yes. Did I dabble into an area I didn't have much passion for or expertise in? Yes. Did I get burnt? YES!

I also remember when magazines wanted my work or people wanted me to participate in fashion shows, I kept getting requests for "high fashion" clothing...and I quote... "never before seen, unique items" (whatever that means) or "Lady Gaga-ish clothes". I told the people... sorry... I do not do high fashion. It is simply not me as a designer. That is not to say I cannot come up with something if I wanted to... but I would assume the reason for putting my clothes in magazines and on the runway is for publicity and also to make sales. I didn't see the point if I did not plan to replicate those clothes for anyone who liked them and wanted to order them. So for me, I felt it was better to channel all my energy into the areas I knew I wanted to specialize in.

So what am I saying?! ...and this is my personal opinion...

I believe that as a designer, you have to search deep within, determine what you like create, you decide (not the market or a consultant) who your ideal customer is and most importantly focus on the vision you have for your passion and business.

Once you are absolutely sure of what your mission is, then go out to look for your target customer. Conduct adequate research, TEST your designs for feedback from your intended market and then tweak your designs to suit what your market wants...because after all, you do have to sell your designs to make a living. But the truth is... there will always be a market. But detailed research is key! Conducting your research can simply be asking as many people as you can if they will buy your designs and what changes they would like. If you are targeting a middle class market and your designs are too expensive for them, look for ways of cutting down costs such as alternative fabric choices, minimize details without losing the very essence of the design, cheaper production techniques and the likes.

Do not let people drag you into bespoke clothing simply because they feel that is where the market is if all you want to do is retail or vice versa. Do not let people force you into menswear when all you want to do is womenswear. Do not let the market force you into selling fabrics if all you want to do is design. Now that is not to say you cannot set up parallel businesses for these different areas if you have the capacity... but my point is... know what you want to do and do not get swept by the tide. If you dabble in an area you are not comfortable with, you run the risk of either not having the ability to continue to churn out creative designs suitable for that area (well except you employ a designer) or have the capacity to continue to produce such highly detailed work. If you choose to operate outside your comfort zone, do it when you are ready and not out of desperation else you will be frustrated!

And most importantly, surround yourself with the right people. Seek advice from people who understand your industry and who will not merely give you theories that should work in the "ideal" world. And even if they do not have an in-depth knowledge of your industry, do not let them change the vision you have for your business. I have come across many people who have tried to make me change my vision but thankfully I remained firmly rooted in my beliefs and I think it is paying least even if nothing else, I am happier now...


I challenge you to go into a quiet place (or noisy place if you so please), say a prayer asking God to help you with this journey of self discovery, pick a pencil and a piece of paper or your journal, draw the very first sketch that comes to your mind and write down 10 things about your abilities as a designer (what you like to do, what comes easily to you, what details you like to put in your clothes, if you want to sew for people or go retail, menswear or womenswear, lingerie or maternity wear, who your ideal customer is, etc), try and describe your design aesthetic or principles in 3 words and finally write down the vision you have for yourself. Be true to yourself.

Do this 2 or 3 times or as often as you can and when you are firmly rooted in your convictions, then start to write a life plan for your fashion business, even if it is a mere hobby or a serious business. When you complete this task, discuss it with someone, could be a family member or a mentor. If you have no-one or need help with this task, feel free to send me an e-mail on and I will be glad to assist.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Have a pleasant week!


Monday, November 28, 2011

My Goodness! Is THAT the "Time"?!

It is amazing how time flies! I cannot believe it's been almost a month since I last updated this blog! My bad! I've been soooooo busy setting up the Martwayne Training Center and it has been full of challenges. Maybe I should start blogging about my frustrations setting up the Center because it has been quite a challenge. Despite making a mental note to update the blog, I never really know when I fall asleep because I am just so knackered at the end of the day!


Thankfully, it is up and running and I am halfway though the Course already and it has been SUCH a rewarding experience! Thought it would be great to post pictures of the before and after looks of the Training Center.

Check them out! Oh...warning... some pictures for some reason, have refused to stay in the correct position despite flipping them. Bear with these please... And also bear with the font and justification. I have modified this several times but this blogger stuff's not just helping me out right now and I've adjusted this too many times!

But's what the place looked like BEFORE...

(No my office was never this messy... When we started setting up the Center, we started moving things around and just didn't care anymore about stuff we knew we planned to change...)

The Production Room

The Pattern Room...
This was the colour the interior decorator chose to paint this room before we parted ways and I decided to do it myself. Awful right?! That's another story for another day...


The Electrical Work...

Fixing the Split Unit Air Conditioners...

Fixing the Lights...

Fixing the Full Length Wall Mirrors...

Screeding the Walls...

Mixing the Paints...
I chose the colours but used this bag to provide the visual image of the shades I wanted... I learnt that telling them neon tones means nothing. You have to actually show them what you want. I learnt that the hard way, especially from the first room that was painted above by the interior decorator...

Painting the Walls... (All the Painting - the rooms, the building, and the gate - was done in 2 nights! 9pm to 4am! There are still a few good people out there...)

THE DRAMATIC TRANSFORMATION: (drumroll please......brrrrrrrrr......)

The Production Room:

On Day 1 of the Course... A Powerpoint Presentation delivered with a Projector...

Days 2 & 3 when the machines came in and what the Production Room looks like now...
(Sorry the picture's sideways... Can't understand why despite changing it several times...)

The Pattern Room...

Haha! Y'all are confused right?! Ok wait, let's do a side by side comparison just so you can see it's the same place...

The Production Room transformed from this:
to this...

& from...
to this...

The walkway and open corners with the full length wall mirrors became a changing room with the floor length curtain...


& this tiny dingy stereo which served me well during my days as a fashion design student in South Africa...
...was replaced by the home theatre sound system suspended on the wall in the corner...

The previously awfully-painted pattern room turned from this:

Amazing what paint, colour & new blinds can do to a place right?!

Of course the Training Center would be incomplete without the most important people... my students... I have 8 of them in total... Not bad for a first timer right?! :-D


Yes it was a HUGE investment but it was worth it!

I'd like to say a HUGE MASSIVE THANK YOU FIRST to God for sending all who made it happen my way...and not a moment too soon either for my 2012 launch! For all those who helped put this together, you all know who you are... my family, friends, colleagues in the industry, staff and of course students! All those who lent me a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, who forwarded my mails and BB broadcasts, who kept encouraging me and who recommended vendors who put all this together in less than a week!

When this becomes much bigger than these humble beginnings, it will not be my success but OUR success!

God bless you all!

And to those who disappointed me and forced me to do this on my own, thank you for making me take the credit for the hard nitty gritty work.

Cheers and have a great week ahead!